Q’s With A Pollstar Live! Panelist: TPG’s David Goldberg on Global Ticketing

– David Goldberg

With a resume that includes serving as an executive vice president at Ticketmaster and CEO of ScoreBig.com, David Goldberg has had a front-row seat to the changes live entertainment and ticketing have undergone over the last two decades.

Goldberg now serves as a senior advisor at TPG Growth, where he helps the private equity firm make sound investments in the live and ticketing spheres, particularly on a global basis.

On Feb. 13, he’ll bring his deep expertise to Pollstar Live!, joining Eventbrite’s Biasha Mitchell, BookMyShow’s Ashish Hemrajani, Aventus’ Annika Monari, Ticketmaster UK’s Andrew Parsons and See Tickets / Digitick’s Rob Wilmshurst for the “Challenges Faced In Global Ticketing Panel.”

The annual conference takes place Feb. 11-13 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., representing the world’s largest gathering of live music industry professionals.

“I’ve always sort of looked at this as there’s only two people that matter in the equation,” Goldberg tells Pollstar. “It’s the provider of the event – by provider it could be the sports team, the artist, the Broadway show, whatever it is — and the fan. All the rest of us, we’re all middlemen. You either find a way to provide value to one of those two ends of the segment, or it’s hard to justify your existence long-term.”

Ahead of Pollstar Live!, Goldberg connected with Pollstar to discuss uniformity in the sphere, blockchain, mobile ticketing and more.

Register for Pollstar Live!

What is global ticketing’s biggest challenge currently?
David Goldberg: Lack of uniformity. In the U.S., you can tour independently and be confident that at least a certain number of venues are going to Ticketmaster venues, some are going to be AXS venues. By and large there’s a commonality, even if you go to Ticketfly or Etix or wherever. How you do at box offices, how settlements occur, how audits are reported. In some markets, in say Western Europe or Australia, you might have things very similar to how they operate in the U.S. But in most other parts of the world, you’ve got a lot of homegrown ticketing companies and ticketing systems. Everything from calling a box office to placing holds to getting events created to how your settlements and audits look — it lacks uniformity.

What do you see as global ticketing’s biggest opportunity currently?
I think everybody is starting to take cues from what artists appear to like to be doing in the States or maybe Western Europe. It used to be fan club presales, now oftentimes it’s VIP programs, it’s dynamic pricing, it’s a number of things that I think clearly the U.S. always tends to lead on.

Blockchain is a technology with serious potential. Why do you think it hasn’t become the underlying standard in the industry?
Blockchain is a specific standard that isn’t necessarily necessary. Blockchain is attempting to ensure the provenance of an item that an end user – or anyone somewhere along the chain – ends up in control of, so that the provenance from the original issuer to whoever the holder is at any given time can be insured. That can be done in lots of ways beyond blockchain as the technology protocol. Is it a very good system for ensuring that provenance? Absolutely. Is it the only system that’s capable of insuring that provenance? Not at all. Is it as elegant and is it as current as blockchain? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

What are examples of other systems that could accomplish similar things?
I look at the original paperless ticketing, Ticketmaster. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a ticket. It just means that the ticket is only a digital record that Ticketmaster is the registry for. Could that ticket be transferred? Could it be resold? Yes. It could be done by going back to Ticketmaster’s original registry, not a public registry. But that’s just one example where that can exist. Flash, within AXS, is another one. Those things exist. It’s not using blockchain and the same methodology, but I believe it’s accomplishing the same ultimate goal.

Full Pollstar Live! Schedule

As smartphones have become increasingly integrated with our daily lives, what’s your analysis of how mobile technology has impacted ticketing?
I think it’s actually impacted it faster outside the U.S. For instance, in India people don’t use desktop internet. People interact with what we think is the web almost solely on mobile devices. That’s how people are consuming. It brings about certain challenges. What has happened is SMS ticketing, mobile barcodes, mobile access, as well as just the initial transactions and marketing that people learn about events from is almost solely done on mobile devices. The idea of sitting at a computer and transacting to buy tickets, in India and a lot of other countries, is just an anomaly. In the U.S., more people are transacting on the web than you find in a lot of these foreign countries, where it’s almost all mobile.

When I’m going to a show, you see people are presenting tickets in all different forms. It feels like it could be streamlined.
It’s a question of least common denominator – if you’re willing to force something on the crowd. Is a sports team willing to do that? Is an artist willing to do that? Is a venue willing to do that? To say, “Look, we don’t want paper printout PDFs anymore” or “We don’t want hard tickets of any kind.” For a certain number of shows or events, I think it’s perfectly acceptable. I think you’ve still got some generational changes that need to happen for a sports team that’s got a season ticket holder in their mid-’70s who just wants a physical ticket, who doesn’t want it on their mobile device.